About the Satellite
Ex-Alta 1 is registered with the ITU under an amateur radio designation. Our satellite callsign is ON03CA. (Oscar November Zero Three Charlie Alpha)
Nominal service is 9k6 GMSK on 436.705 MHz. Failsafe service is 4k8 GMSK on 436.705 MHz.
The rate may be lowered to 4k8 for troubleshooting – the default rate after hard reset due to errors in the radio is 4k8, as is the default rate immediately after launch.
Current expected service: 4k8 GMSK on 436.705 MHz. Updated May 11, 2017.
Ex-Alta 1 does not use AX.25. Instead, it uses a CCSDS-derived packet structure that encloses the Cubesat Space Protocol originally developed by Aalborg University and Gomspace.
Information on this is available through several websites. A few are linked here:
How to Track
Most satellites are tracked by radio detection or triangulation. The knowledge gained on the satellite’s position is published in the Two Line Element format. We will try to keep the TLE up to date as the mission progresses, but information will be hard to come by in the early days of the mission. Ex-Alta 1 is being deployed from the International Space Station, so that is a good place to start until we get better tracking information.
No current TLE
Software such as Orbitron or GPredict can be used on personal computers, and the QB50 mission server can be used to visualize locations in real time on any device.
Check out the mission server homepage for a live map of all QB50 satellites and ground stations!
How to Decode
A very useful blog to read is available from Daniel Estévez/EA4GPZ/MOHXM. This blog details contacts with GOMX-3, which flew the same radio as Ex-Alta 1. While the beacon format and information sent during downlink are not similar, the modulation, encoding, antenna, and protocol are identical. Read about it here, and try searching for GOMX to see all the relevant blog posts.
Also from EA4GPZ is a complete git repository with GNURadio libraries that can be used to decode CSP packets from Ex-Alta 1 with minor changes.
The beacon format for Ex-Alta 1 can be found on a dedicated page here. The beacon is programmed to broadcast every 30 seconds.
If you need more information for your setup to successfully receive and decode signals from Ex-Alta 1, please use the Contact Us page. We’re happy to share what we have.
How to Contribute
Any files, recordings, or information collected by radio amateurs can be uploaded to the QB50 mission server through the link below. Be sure to select the correct satellite – be it Ex-Alta 1 or any other QB50 satellite – from the dropdown menu. Also select the upload type. An account on the mission server website is required so that all uploads can be matched to a name or callsign, and a running tally of successful contacts can be maintained.
Any further questions or concerns can be sent to the AlbertaSat team via the Contact Us page. We can normally respond within 24 hours.
Stay up to date by joining the AlbertaSat mailing list. Updates relating to operations and commissioning will be sent out (at most) daily following deployment.
The primary radio for interfacing with the satellite is an ground station copy of the one being flown. We also have an Ettus B200mini for interfacing with other satellites.
Currently we are able to transmit and receive in the UHF band, and receive only in the VHF band.
We have a webcam streaming photos from the roof where our antennas are located. (If nothing appears in the feed, the mast may be lowered for maintenance.)
This page was written by Collin Cupido/VA6ISS. AlbertaSat has over 30 members with basic amateur radio certification and about 10 members with advanced amateur radio certification – all of whom are excited to learn and share in the field of amateur radio.